We might relish the thrill of the hero and heroine’s gazes holding a tad longer than appropriate, the quickening of pulse as their fingers brush, or the intimacy of their mingling breath as a loose strand of hair is tucked behind an ear. We might sigh with longing at those romantic moments, but my answer is a firm, no, thank you. Granted, I may have a different perspective as a writer. I spend hours creating emotionally traumatic circumstances to force my heroine and hero to endure. When they think it can’t get worse, another peril presents itself.
In The Sugar Baron’s Ring which released this week, the hero, Bradlee, must return to England with his research in time to face the dons and pass his final exams, because his father is under the presumption Bradlee has already graduated. However, a drunken captain runs the passenger ship aground on a reef. When Bradlee stops to help a man, he loses his spot in the lifeboat. The vessel, then, breaks apart, and before he plummets into the dark, swirling water, a man yells, “Shark!” And that’s just the first chapter.
If writers aren’t spiteful, ruthless people, why do we need to torture our heroes and heroines? Holding a reader’s interest isn’t the only reason. We torment our main characters because, through their struggles, readers fall in love with the redemptive story. When the black moment hits and all is lost, readers experience how hope prevails.
We see similar suffering-to-redemption examples from the Bible. Naomi, in the book of Ruth, relocates to a foreign land due to a famine, her sons marry outside of their religion, and then Naomi’s husband dies. When it seems it can’t get worse, Naomi’s sons die. Let’s look at Joseph. His jealous brothers throw him into a pit and then sell him as a slave to passing traders. Joseph works hard and tries to make the best of a bad situation, but then he’s accused of a crime he didn’t commit, thrown into jail, and forgotten. And then, there was the Apostle Paul, he was arrested for being a Christ-follower, but during his transportation to Rome to stand trial, a storm sinks the ship. He helps the crew and captives swim to the island of Malta and build a fire, wherein another almost comical stroke of bad luck, a snake bites Paul’s hand as he’s warming them.
If we didn’t know the ending, we’d think God had it out for Naomi, Joseph, and Paul. In our own lives, when things take a turn for the worst, we may wonder if God is punishing us. However, we must remember the full story. Because of those trials, Naomi’s joy was redeemed through her daughter-in-law, Ruth, and she became a grandmother in the lineage of Jesus. Joseph became Pharaoh’s righthand man and saved his family from starving to death. Paul had an opportunity to heal and witness to many of the Malta islanders.
In our black moments, we may cry out to God and feel like it falls on deaf ears, but don’t give up hope, because hope hasn’t given up on you. In those bleak times, we must remember the redemption story, not the ones from fiction novels, but from history, where Jesus faced his darkest moment on the cross and took our sins upon him so that we may have life and live it to the full.
Or as I call it, happily-ever-after.
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